These cars have sat in Florida for two years. What’s the smart way to start them up?

Brian Early says expect to replace the batteries, at the very least.

By Brian Early Wheels.ca

Jul 23, 2022 3 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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Dear Ask a Mechanic,

We have two vehicles that have not been started in more than two years while in Florida. What precautions should I take prior to starting the vehicles? - Sunshine state

It’s not entirely clear from the reader’s question whether they’ve been in Florida for more than two years, or that their cars have been in Florida for that time. The difference isn’t important. What will matter most is where the vehicles have been parked – in an underground parking area, in an attached garage or outside?

Best case scenario is that they were parked in an underground lot, as they will usually protect the vehicle from sun and weather damage, temperature extremes, and – to some extent – animal damage. An attached garage will offer fewer of those benefits. Worst case scenario would be that it was left outdoors.

Regardless of location, unless the vehicle’s batteries were left attached to a tender, I would fully expect that both will need to be replaced with new ones, whether they were left disconnected or not.

Also expect to have to re-inflate the tires prior to moving either vehicle. You will also have to inspect the tires for cracking before using them.

It is also worth having a cursory look around the engine bay and beneath the engine cover before starting the vehicle to ensure that no animals have taken up residence or chewed through anything important.

For my own peace of mind, I’d want to try and prevent the vehicle from starting initially so I can circulate some engine oil before it runs. If there is a separate fuse for the fuel pump or injectors, cranking the engine for 10 to 15 seconds (once or twice) with those fuses removed should do the trick.

If they’re newer vehicles with fuel injection (as opposed to classic cars with carburetors), there’s a decent chance that they’ll start right up despite the fuel likely being very deteriorated. Again, healthy batteries will be an asset.

Once started, don’t immediately shut the vehicles off. Let them run for several minutes, minimum, to avoid flooding them. You’ll want to get fresh fuel into them as soon as possible, and not drive them hard until that happens.

Don’t be surprised if the brakes are stuck, especially if the cars were outdoors. While you might be able to break them free with careful application of the brake pedal, they will need immediate attention afterward. Since an oil change is probably a good idea, this would be a great opportunity to have both the vehicles properly and fully inspected by a professional.

Ask a Mechanic is written by Brian Early, a Red Seal-certified automotive technician. You can send your questions to wheels@thestar.ca. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.




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